A Washington Post article today announced that Russia and Uzbekistan have formed (again) a military alliance which could in the future mean that Russia will have a military base on Uzbekistan’s soil. This is ironic as Uzbekistan has shifted between alliances with Russia and the US. Uzbekistan until very recently hosted a US air force base that was crucial in the war against terrorism. However, the relationship turned sour after an uprising on May 13.
Uzbekistan says it was an attempt by Islamic militants to seize power in which 173 people were killed. (The government also hinted that they believed the US supported these militants…which makes perfect sense seeing as how supportive the US government is of Islamic terrorists.) However, the US believes that in reality hundreds of civilians were killed when they were protesting poverty and government repression in the streets.
In response, the US government began to threaten to withhold aid due to this and other human rights violations by the government. This prompted the Uzbeks to give the US six months to leave the base.
The danger may not necessarily be that we are losing Uzbekistan to Russia. After all, the Cold War is over right? Uzbekistan seems to be the unique case of a former satellite reverting back to the “motherland”. Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan all have western-leaning governments. However, can the US afford to lose a base in such a valuable geographic location? Although the US still has a “temporary” base in K-stan, the loss of the base in Uzbekistan means that operations in Afghanistan will be more difficult, it might compromise any future operations in Pakistan or India, there is a general loss in regional dominance of Central Asia (something Russia and China couldn’t be happier about), and don’t forget that Uzbekistan has lots of oil to boot. MacGyver talked about Bush being a hypocrite, but this is one example of the US standing up for human rights violations and suffering the consequences for it. However are the consequences too great? In the interest of national security should the US just turn the other cheek to these violations of human rights?